When your child is diagnosed with a hearing loss, many new people suddenly become involved in your family’s life. Here’s a run-down of some of the professionals you may encounter as you evaluate the best options for your child. As you can see from this list of experts, there’s a wealth of support available to you.
Audiologists are university-qualified hearing specialists. They conduct hearing tests and perform other diagnostic techniques. They also prescribe and fit hearing aids and assistive listening devices, and offer counselling and auditory rehabilitation. Your audiologist will be an important member of the team you work with to help your child hear more effectively.
An auditory-verbal therapist is a Teacher of the Deaf, speech pathologist or audiologist who has passed the international qualifying exam and is licensed by Auditory-Verbal International. The auditory-verbal approach is based on a logical and critical set of guiding principles. These enable children who have hearing loss to learn to use even minimal amounts of amplified residual hearing, or hearing through electrical stimulation (cochlear implants), to listen, process verbal language and speak.
The goal of the auditory-verbal approach is for children who have hearing loss to grow up in typical learning and living environments and to become independent, participating citizens in mainstream society. The auditory-verbal philosophy supports children across all degrees of hearing loss to develop the ability to listen and to use verbal communication within their own family and communities.
Australian Hearing technicians
Technicians at your Australian Hearing centre can repair hearing aids and other assistive devices.
Counsellors have special skills in listening to people and assisting them with understanding problems and making choices. They work with families or individuals.
Clinical geneticists are doctors with special training in how medical conditions or characteristics are passed from one generation to the next. A geneticist may be able to advise you on the chances of deafness occurring if you have more children and the likelihood of your child passing on deafness to their own children.
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists
ENT specialists are surgeons who specialise in the management of disorders of the ears, nose and throat. An ENT specialist examines your child’s ears before hearing devices are fitted to determine if any additional problems are present. An ENT specialist may carry out surgical procedures (eg, the insertion of grommets) if required and is involved in the ongoing management of any ear infections or wax removal. An ENT specialist is also an integral part of the cochlear implant assessment team.
Guidance officers work in educational settings and provide guidance and support counselling services to schools and their communities. They help with the educational, physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of children. They assist through activities such as assessment, intervention, counselling, addressing behaviour management issues and by upholding the educational and personal welfare of students.
An interpreter can help when there's a change in language between two people, for example, between Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and English. In school settings a similar process may be needed between spoken English and signed English. This process is called transliterating.
Occupational therapists look at your child’s developmental level of play, fine motor skills and daily living skills such as eating and dressing. They can show you ways your child can learn self-help skills and provide information about good positioning and seating for optimal hearing.
Ophthalmologists are doctors who specialise in the management of disorders of the eye and visual system. It’s important that children with a hearing loss also have their vision checked.
Paediatricians are doctors who specialise in the management of the health and development of children.
Physiotherapists have specialised skills to assess and diagnose physical problems. They plan and administer treatment programs that aim to restore normal mobility and strength or minimise dysfunction resulting from a disability.
Psychologists are trained to assess cognitive and behavioural functioning through a variety of assessment techniques, including specific tests, observations and interviews. They can develop a program to meet the psychological needs of an individual or family.
Social workers are skilled in working with individuals, families and groups on practical matters that impact your family’s day-to-day life. They can provide short or long-term support, counselling and therapy. A social worker knows how to use community resources and can refer your family to services that best suit your needs. A social worker may also be called a family support worker.
Speech pathologists have the necessary expertise to assess, diagnose and treat all types of communication disorders related to speech, language, voice quality and fluency. They can be particularly helpful if your child’s hearing loss is affecting their voice quality or pronunciation.
Teachers of the Deaf
Teachers of the Deaf
are teachers who have received specialised training in teaching children with hearing loss. The teacher will work with you to enable your child to reach maximum developmental potential in their speech, language, cognition, audition and social, emotional and motor skills.
You might not always feel comfortable or satisfied with the advice or opinion of a particular professional. If this happens, we encourage you to seek a second or even third opinion.
Australian Hearing is the leading provider of hearing loss support services and devices. For more information on hearing loss for children, we're always happy to chat.